Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Saturday, October 26, 2013

CONSEQUENCES OF EXPANDING MILITARISM


  • Michael Hadfield, Professor of Biology, University of Hawai'i, writes: "Pagan Island, one of a string of volcanic islands that make up the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas [in the Pacific Ocean], is an ancient home to the Chamorro people and the habitat of unique animals and plants, many of them endemic, rare and endangered. Those natural and cultural resources are being put at risk by a plan by the U.S. Marines to use the island as a live-fire training ground. In scoping documents related to the environmental impact statement required for that plan to go forward, the Marines have characterized Pagan Island as being desolate and uninhabitable.' Photographs included here show how untrue this is." 
  •  The militarization of Pagan Island is another example of the US "pivot" into the Asia-Pacific to control China.  As the Pentagon moves 60% of its military forces into the region it needs more bases, training fields, ports of call, and barracks for its troops.  Guam, Jeju Island, Okinawa, Philippines, and more are being taped to take on additional US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.  No wonder the people in these places are furious with our government.  You can sign a petition opposing the Pagan Island "live-fire training" here.
  • Yesterday four of us vigiled at Bath Iron Works (BIW) as they prepared to put the Zumwalt "stealth" destroyer into the water.  While standing across from BIW's administration building Jon Fitzgerald, lead counsel for BIW, came out and talked with me for about 30 minutes.  He's actually a nice man and we had a wide ranging discussion about conversion, climate change, tax breaks for BIW and more.  (Many people in Maine fondly remember his father who years ago led BIW and met with peace activists to discuss conversion of the shipyard.  This happened before I moved to the state so I am not privy to all the details but it was my understanding that these discussions ended when General Dynamics bought BIW.  If I got that wrong Mr. Fitzgerald can correct me as he told me he is now a reader of this blog.)  Our conversation was cordial but at times we disagreed, particularly over the need for BIW to get more tax breaks from the struggling taxpayers in Bath.  At one point we were talking about climate change and I asked him if he had children.  He does and I went on to describe how the Pentagon has the largest carbon boot print on the planet.  Fitzgerald said that BIW has been very interested in building offshore wind turbines but our right-wing Gov. LePage has done everything he can to disrupt that effort as he moves to make Maine reliant on fracked natural gas.  I look forward to more discussions with Mr. Fitzgerald in the future, knowing that we will still be opponents on issues like warships and corporate welfare.  But at the least we can acknowledge each other's humanity and have civil dialogue.  That's a good start.

Friday, October 25, 2013

WALK PHOTOS FROM AUGUSTA EVENT



















Finally got the photos from inside the Hall of Flags in Augusta a week ago for our Maine Drone Peace Walk closing ceremony.

Art props by Natasha Mayers.

Photos by Roger Leisner

THIS IS WHERE I COME FROM, WHAT I CARE ABOUT



Newsnight's Jeremy Paxman (UK) debates Russell Brand (comedian, actor, radio host, and author) about voting, revolution and beards.

Well worth a listen.

See more by Russell Brand here

BIW TOUR - WATCHING THE DECLINE OF THE WAR GAME SYSTEM UP CLOSE


I took the last trolley tour of Bath Iron Works (BIW) for the season yesterday run by the Maine Maritime Museum.  Mostly retired people, either on vacation or former BIW workers, filled the trolley for the one-hour ride through the bowels of the shipyard.  A man sitting in front of me said to his wife while parked alongside the Zumwalt "stealth" destroyer that it was " a weapon of destruction."  It was a pleasant surprise to hear those words.

The highlight of the tour was to advertise the "top secret" Zumwalt that was supposed to be blessed by Christ and launched last Saturday.  That event was cancelled due to the government "shutdown" although the workers at BIW were humming along as regular during that period.

A friend asked me how I felt seeing the inside of the place where I have protested for the past 10 1/2 years.  I told him the following:

It's quite amazing to see the incredible work that goes into building a warship; I can see how the workers feel proud of their "product" - just as I feel proud after stacking wood; It's very sad to see the wasted $$$ and human resources that go into building weapon systems that will be used to surround China and launch "preemptive" attack; With the coming severe reality of climate change (and extreme weather) it just a damned shame that they are not building rail systems, wind turbines, solar systems and other such needed things.  It breaks my heart to see the collapse of the Mayan civilization right before our eyes.

I will be down to BIW today from 3:00 - 4:30 pm to hold a sign that reads: Zumwalt Expensive Provocative.

I'm not certain how many will join me but it really doesn't matter in a way.  My message stands for itself.  Some workers inside BIW know they are on a fool’s errand.  Few of them have the courage to join with the voices of sanity in the community and around the world.  The $$$ is good, some of the best wages in Maine.  Capitalism has sold us on the notion that "me" comes first, middle and last.  Community and the greater good be damned.  Grab what you can while you can.  Most people have internalized that oppressive message.

The corporate oligarchy is arming itself to the teeth as they prepare for the final conflicts over rapidly diminishing natural resources on the planet.  The old school yard game of "King of the Hill" is playing out right here in Bath.

The Zumwalt's mission is to be the loaded gun pointed at the head of China and anyone else that tries to stand in the way of corporate global dominance.  I can't turn away from this one.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

THE FUKUSHIMA NUCLEAR MESS



This interview with Dr. Michio Kaku is old but still holds up very well due to the continuing disastrous situation in Fukushima.  There is growing support for Kaku's call for TEPCO to be taken off the case and have an international team of experts take over the situation.

There is growing evidence that life in the Pacific Ocean is being killed by the radioactive mess pouring into the sea from the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Dr. Kaku was a founding member of the Global Network in 1992 and remains on our board of advisers.

TOTAL SURVEILLANCE SOCIETY



The U.S. government has turned the Internet into a system for spying on all of us. Out of control government surveillance is a hazard to our civil liberties and to any hopes for real democracy.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

DEMOLITION OF PUBLIC SERVICES IN UK



Put your ear to the railroad tracks and hear the train coming..........

STEALTH DESTROYER LAUNCH THIS FRIDAY

The first ever Zumwalt "stealth" destroyer built at Bath Iron Works

I learned today that the new "stealth" destroyer made here in Bath will be put into the water on this Friday, Oct 25.  I am going to put together a vigil on Washington St in front of the BIW administration office from 3:00 - 4:30 pm.  All are invited to join me.

This warship will be used to sneak up along China's coast because it will supposedly be able to evade radar detection.  There can be no doubt that its primary mission is not defense, but instead is a key tool in the Pentagon's first-strike planning.

The Associated Press has reported,  “A super-stealthy destroyer that could underpin the U.S. Navy’s China strategy will be able to sneak up on coastlines virtually undetected and pound targets with electromagnetic ‘rail guns’ right out of a sci-fi movie.  Using electric pulses, not chemical explosives, the ‘rail gun’ can shoot a 40-pound metal slug from New York to Philadelphia at up to 5,600 mph — more than seven times the speed of sound — with 32 times the force of a car traveling at 100 miles per hour."

The new stealthy DDG-1000 being built by General Dynamics in Bath will cost between $4-7 billion each.  The Navy did not actually want the destroyer because it would eat up too much of their shipbuilding budget.  But Obama, who was strongly supported in his run for president in 2008 by the Chicago-based Crown family (which are majority stockholders in General Dynamics), has insisted the ships be built.  

Almost every major defense contractor (including Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine, L-3 Communications) and subcontractors from nearly every state in the U.S. are involved to some extent in this project, which is the largest single line item in the Navy's budget.

Previous versions of Navy destroyers, outfitted with ‘missile defense’ systems cost about  $1.5 billion each.

BITS AND PIECES


  • Word comes today from Jeju Island where a dedicated Catholic activist supporter of the village struggle against the Navy base was hit by a big construction truck and carried to an emergency room of a hospital. No word yet on extent of injuries.  It is just a matter of time before someone gets seriously injured or killed the way the police and naval authorities are ramping up construction and repression of the people. Boycott Samsung - the lead construction contractor for the Navy base.
  • I met for lunch today with Nicholson Baker and Tom Jackson .  Nicholson is writing an article about the Obama pivot into the Asia-Pacific and some of the key weapons technologies being deployed there.  Nicholson is an author and composer.  He is the person who wrote the incredibly moving Jeju Island song that is featured in the beginning of the documentary film The Ghosts of Jeju.
  •  I am getting caught up with my neglected administrative work load following the end of the peace walk.  I also have alot to do around the house and garden to prepare for winter.  This morning I took a car load of junk to the city dump and for the last two days have been stacking wood given to us by our two neighbors on either side of our house.  Stacking wood is one of my favorite outdoor tasks - I can actually see some real results after a few hours of work.

FR. BIX ON HIS JEJU TRIP



Fr. William "Bix" Bichsel, S.J. spent about two weeks on Jeju Island, South Korea recently (late September through early October). It was a transformative experience for the 85 year old Jesuit. In this interview, In this interview, Bix speaks passionately about the struggle by the people of Jeju Island to stop construction of the massive naval base that is unnecessary from a military perspective, and will only serve to increase tensions in the region.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

OBAMA CARE GLITCHES



The Obama corporate health care program is a mess.  This situation appears to be worsening by the day.

The complexity of trying to sort through zillions of insurance companies, with confusing and competing policies, is enough to make the average citizen go crazy.

We need a simple one-stop Medicare for all.

DEBATING US DRONE STRIKES ON THE BBC



US officials responsible for the secret CIA drone campaign against suspected terrorists in Pakistan may have committed war crimes and should stand trial, a report by a leading human rights group warns. Amnesty International has highlighted the case of a grandmother who was killed while she was picking vegetables and other incidents which could have broken international laws designed to protect civilians.


See more here

CELL PHONE DANGERS ARE REAL



Insurers stop covering for cell phone use, called the next 'casualty catastrophe' after tobacco and asbestos; phone manufacturers hit with a class action and personal lawsuits; and the warning deep inside your mobile.

I am becoming more and more uncomfortable around cell phones.  Sadly when I travel I am far too reliant on Wifi.  Our bodies are being fried.

THINGS LEARNED


Maine is a beautiful state to walk through.  Water, mountains, trees, farms, poverty, and interesting people.

One of my favorite moments on the walk was along the narrow rural Highway 2 from Skowhegan to Farmington.  (On this route truckers often blasted their horns.)  We approached a local mom & pop breakfast joint and three guys were in the parking lot watching us pass by.  I crossed the road and handed them each our flyer.  One of them asked how much it would cost to get a hunting license to shoot down drones.  I told them the story about seeing a bumpersticker that said, "Protect my 2nd amendment right to shoot down drones."  They liked that and as I pulled away one said, "Hey, you guys are doing a good job."

What made this a special moment for me was the cultural connection I felt to these guys.  My step-father was from Rumford, Maine and came from a paper mill family.  He was working class.  My mom married him when I was about three years old, so Wes was essentially my father.  When I talked with the three guys on Hwy 2, I saw Wes.  I loved being able to have that connection - it's a good part of what I am.

As the Buddhists chanted Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō I was lifted, by connection to the spirit of community and genuine purpose, to a new strength.  I often was dragging by the end of the day but was reminded how much energy the walking community can bring.

The deep connection of seeing and feeling the land, water and sky brought it all home for me.  Our machines are killing us.  They are killing nature. Now and then we'd make cars stop to let us walk by in a group.  Most folks were fine and enjoyed the parade.  But still, almost always in larger population centers, some drivers got more impatient and demanding.  Then they'd zoom off - 0 to 60 - in just seconds.  We were literally just taking a couple steps forward while watching this illustration of speed-time-power-success, that under girds the machine-culture mythology, roar into the distance.

Chanting Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō would come in and out of my head.  Sometimes I'd chant to myself and other times I was fixed on wandering thoughts or organizing needs of the walk. (Being the perfectionist that I am it was always on my mind to try to stay flexible and patient with everyone.  My way was not always going to be the best way.)  Ego gets involved a bit here as does one of the other manifestations of the business model - competition.  It all comes out during such experiences.  So I had some interesting internal reflection over these things.

When you hit the walkers wall (about day 2-3 for me) you begin to question your sanity and your endurance.  Once you push thru that self doubt things get easier.  But in those moments the weak and dark corners inside of us awaken.  I found chanting would help bring me back to the light side.

We were lucky to have Jules Orkin with us from Veterans for Peace.  He lives in New Jersey and does alot of peace walks with Nipponzan Myohoji.  He brings along his van to help with shuttling.  Early on he offered to take charge of the daily vehicle shuttling process.  It was a big help but more than that Jules became my co-organizer and I loved working with him.  A retired bookstore owner, with more than 10,000 books still in his possession, Jules has a great sense of humor and a big heart.  We had first met in jail last spring when we were among those arrested at Hancock Field in Syracuse, New York protesting against that drone operations base.  Jules and I were among the last three men to be released from jail so we had a good bit of time to connect.  I'll miss him alot. 

MORE WALK PHOTOS

Bangor area activists sing to us
Prayer time before dinner

Brother Kanaeda has an incredible voice and we loved his slavery-era blues songs
Starr Gilmartin shared why she was walking

The ever lovable Br. Gilberto with Jules Orkin

From our drone peace walk pot luck supper and program in Bangor, Maine on October 12. 

Photos taken by Katie Greenman.

Monday, October 21, 2013

THE SOLUTION TO WAR.......


In this exclusive, unedited interview, Malala Yousafzai offers suggestions for Americans looking to help out overseas and stresses the importance of education.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

SOME SNAPS FROM AUGUSTA

Two of our Japanese walkers inside the Hall of Flags in Augusta on Friday


Walkers and supporters after our closing ceremony inside the capital building


HOW LOW CAN YOU STOOP?


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Pentagon unit held 'phony' ceremonies for MIAs, using planes that can't fly

A unit of the U.S. Department of Defense has been holding so-called "arrival ceremonies" for seven years, with an honor guard carrying flag-draped coffins off of a cargo plane as though they held the remains of missing American service men and women returning that day from old battlefields.

After NBC News raised questions about the arrival ceremonies, the Pentagon acknowledged Wednesday that no honored dead were in fact arriving, and that the planes used in the ceremonies often couldn't even fly but were towed into position.

See the whole story here

POLICE INTERRUPT MASS ON JEJU ISLAND



The Navy base has become the new God to the South Korean government.  Power and profit trumps the body and blood of Christ.

The corporations are the new pharaoh.

Then in the last couple of minutes of the video you see the villagers playing games together, once again showing how determined and resilient they are as a people.

Gangjeong village Mayor Kang recently did a speaking tour to Dublin, Ireland, England (Menwith Hill and London) and Paris.  He was featured in an interview which is available here

SUNDAY SONG